Sister Emilia Montavani
65 years ago, 27th October 1947, was quite a day in Kashmir.
The first Indian troops landed at the airstrip outside Srinagar, initiating a military presence which continues to this day ... the Maharaja, in all probability, signed the instrument of accession by which Kashmir became part of India, and certainly this was the day that Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of independent India, accepted the accession ... and in mid-morning, armed Pakistani tribesmen scaled the walls of St Joseph's convent and hospital in Baramulla, killing six of those at the mission.
I first heard the story of the attack on the Baramulla mission from Sister Emilia, an Italian nun who had lived through the attack, indeed spent seventy years there in all, and is now buried in the mission grounds. She was laid to rest close to her friend Sister Teresalina, a young Spanish nun who was among the casualties that autumn day back in 1947.
On the far side of the misson lie the graves of the five other victims of that violence - a military grave for Lt-Colonel Tom Dykes, and plain headstones for his wife Biddy Dykes, a nurse pursuing holy orders Philomena, the husband of the hospital doctor Jose Barretto, and a patient Motia Devi Kapoor.
It's a moving and important story - modest in scale to some of the anguish Kashmir has endured over the intervening years, but in many ways the moment the Kashmir conflict began. 65 years on, let's remember those who died so tragically that day - and those such as Sister Emilia who kept their stories and remembrance alive.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
Welcome - read - comment - throw stones - pick up threads - and tell me how to do this better!